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As I said at the top of the piece this is a strange review because primarily we're looking at the effect of 4GB of memory and the fact it is Corsair is secondary. The fundamental points apply equally well to any make of memory almost regardless of the speed. That said, the one obvious thing this Corsair 4GB kit has going for it is it's incredibly cheap.
To test the memory we built a Core 2 system with a Q6600 processor on an Abit IP35 Pro motherboard. We had two 4GB kits of Corsair and while it is only certified to run two-up (two modules, 4GB) we also gave it a go in four-up with a total of 8GB installed. We started with Windows Vista 32-bit Ultimate Edition and then switched to 64-bit. You get both versions in a retail package of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition so the cost of 64-bit is effectively free provided you have already bought the horribly expensive 32-bit boxed software.
Using an MSI GeForce 8800GT graphics card as an example of a regular graphics card and a pair of Power Color Radeon HD 2900 XT cards, which each carry 1GB of memory, as a pseudo-CrossFireX set-up we let rip. Our synthetic test was the usual 3DMark06 and for a real world test we used Crysis.
Process Explorer shows that the Virtual Size of the memory for the CrossFire arrangement was higher than the single 8800GT but all the figures came in around the 1GB mark. The peak memory load was very similar in each case at 725MB-749MB and FRAPs shows that the frame rates were amazingly consistent in all of the scenarios.
It's a surprise that 2GB of RAM in Windows XP works so well although the numbers suggest that the game is on the verge of running out of resources at any moment. Switching to 64-bit Vista with more memory doesn't pay a dividend in Crysis but only because the 32-bit version is clearly inside a limit of 2GB. Having said that, if Crysis didn't play properly on a PC with 2GB of RAM you'd have to say that Crytek had lost their marbles as they would have cut off the entire installed base of PCs at one fell stroke.
Until I started testing these Corsair kits, the idea of 64-bit Windows seemed quite absurd but that has all changed. I am now convinced we're very close to the point where 2GB of RAM will be inadequate so when I do finally ditch XP for Vista on my personal PC I am quite sure that I shall plump for the 64-bit version of Vista Ultimate. The only question is whether I shall make the move during 2008 or hang on until 2009.